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For the first time, social liberals are as common as social conservatives

Kobby Dagan /
Libby Nelson is Vox's policy editor, leading coverage of how government action and inaction shape American life. Libby has more than a decade of policy journalism experience, including at Inside Higher Ed and Politico. She joined Vox in 2014.

People who describe themselves as socially liberal have been outnumbered by moderates and social conservatives since at least 1999. Not anymore, according to a new Gallup poll:


Social conservatives and social liberals have pulled even at 31 percent apiece, with moderates making up the remaining 34 percent of the population.

This is mostly due to a change of heart — or at least a change of identification — among Democrats, who are much more likely to describe themselves as liberal than they used to be. It probably also reflects significant, fast-moving shifts of public opinion on social issues like same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization.


Republican opinion, on the other hand, has barely shifted: 53 percent describe themselves as conservative, down from 57 percent in 2001. And although liberals have gained ground on economic issues, too, the shift isn't nearly as dramatic. Self-described conservatives on economic issues still outnumber liberals two to one.


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